It’s fair to say the arts is often the understudy to more high profile investments in our community, for example oval upgrades, cycle tracks and many sports facilities.
It’s true the arts and culture cohort has a smaller fan base, less visibility and plenty of outspoken critics.
But there’s no denying arts and culture activity helps define who we are, as individuals and as a community; it is an essential part of our ‘Barossa Story’.
It’s the reason our 2018-19 budget includes over $380,000 for arts and gallery programs, one of the largest investments we’ve ever made.
This funding allows us to provide free or subsidised programs in the Barossa Regional Gallery space, gives local artists and artisans a retail presence, and supports cultural activities and events in the broader community.
For the first time we also have an exhibitions budget, enabling us to attract a wider, more dynamic range of touring exhibitions that would otherwise pass us by.
These are initiatives worthy of our support.
Unfortunately, the multiplier effect of investment is arts and culture is difficult to measure.
Likewise, many people fail to understand its relevance and importance to the Barossa narrative.
Hopefully community attitudes will evolve (and critics won over) as we move towards a Barossa Culture Hub, which will shine a light on local creative enterprise in innovative and exciting new ways.
But don’t wait until then.
On the cusp of the SA Living Artists (SALA) Festival, as local cellar doors, community halls and venues are transformed into quasi-galleries, I encourage everyone to take a look at the Barossa through the eyes of an artist.
You might just discover something new.
The Barossa Council
The South Australian Living Artists (SALA) Festival is a state-wide event which began in 1998. The program takes place throughout August with over 40 events staged in the Barossa Valley this year.